Unit C: Impact of Tourism
Summarize the impact of tourism.
Discuss the environmental impact of tourism.
A. Define environment: The climatic, social, and cultural conditions that
influence the life of a person or community.
B. Identify positive environmental effects of tourism.
1. Preserving natural resources is the most important element in the
development of a tourist destination.
2. Revenues generated from entrance fees and other fees may be used to
improve animal habitats, wilderness areas, and infrastructure.
3. If tourists are educated about the environment and natural resources,
they are more likely to understand the importance of preservation efforts
and to participate in that preservation.
4. Good design and planning of an infrastructure and superstructure are
important. The addition of more restaurants and hotels provides variety
and choices. Welcome centers provide a hospitable atmosphere. When
appropriate design of buildings in terms of color, signage, and
landscaping is used and maintained, the beauty of the area is enhanced.
C. Identify negative environmental effects of tourism.
1. An increase in the number of people using an area’s resources will
usually have a detrimental impact on the environment.
2. Effects on wildlife
a. Disrupting feeding and breeding
b. Killing of animals
c. Destruction of habitats
d. Restriction of wildlife’s natural movement and migration
3. Effects on landscapes
a. Erosion
b. Land development
c. Destruction of natural beauty
4. Pollution of the environment
a. Land
b. Water
c. Air
d. Chemical
e. Noise
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D. Discuss carrying capacity as it relates to the environmental impact of tourism.
1. Carrying capacity: The number of users that can be accommodated in
an area before visitors perceive a decline in the desirability of the area or
before ecological damage is done.
2. Factors used to determine carrying capacity include:
a. The number of visitors
b. The amount of “use” by the average visitor. Are the tourists just
passing through or is it an extended stay? This will determine the
amount of use the facility receives.
c. The quality of resource management and facility
development/design. Example: The number of visitors who are
allowed to climb to the top of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is limited
daily so that no excess strain is placed on the structure. This was
necessary after the steps crumbled in early 2000 from excessive
tourist use.
d. The number of residents and their quality-of-life needs. Example:
When an excessive number of tourists visit an area, it overextends
the water, power, and sewage capabilities for the local residents.
e. The number of other users of the area (farmers, ranchers, educators,
3. When a destination exceeds its carrying capacity, city/town planners may
have to adjust rules and regulations. Example: Busing visitors to a
national park from a remote location instead of letting individuals drive
can cut down on noise and air pollution.
E. Discuss ecotourism as an environmental impact of tourism.
1. Ecotourism: Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the
environment and sustains the well being of the local people. This is
sometimes referred to as adventure tourism or nature travel.
2. Ecotourism is growing at a faster rate than tourism overall.
3. Ecotourism is based on the principle of conserving the environment for
future generations. Ecotourists feel that it is important to preserve the
environment so that generations to come can enjoy the earth’s natural
4. Ecotourism provides tourists with knowledge about natural areas and the
culture that is found within.
5. For the natives, ecotourism helps improve the local economy and
conservation efforts.
6. Ecotourists tend to be wealthy, college-educated, and willing to spend
large amounts of money on extended trips.
7. Most ecotourism destinations can be found in areas with vast natural
surroundings and plentiful flora and fauna. These places include the
deserts of Kenya, the tropical rainforests of Rwanda and Zaire, the coral
reefs of Australia, and the ice glaciers of Antarctica.
8. Examples of ecotourism experiences include bird watching on the Outer
Banks, trail building in Australia, and canoeing on the Amazon River.
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F. Identify the elements required to develop a tourism infrastructure and
1. Infrastructure: The basic foundations needed to support and
accommodate tourists.
a. Water supply
b. Sewage disposal
c. Public utilities
d. Roads
2. Superstructure: Facilities that expand and improve the basic
infrastructure to serve the specific needs of tourists and increase the
desirability of the area.
a. Hotels
b. Restaurants
c. Attractions such as beaches, golf courses, campgrounds, or retail
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